03 Dec

DIY Shell Christmas Tree

DIY shell tree

Brrr! Have you been outside today? Yowza – my morning curb surfing activities weren’t much fun since it’s well below freezing here in my neck o’ the woods. Do you have any idea how hard it is to unscrew hardware bolts with frozen fingers? (and my gloves weren’t much help) This is about the time folks around here start making plans to head south to warmer climates.

Us? We’re getting ready for a trip to Denver. Go figure.

Anyhow – in light of the frigid temps I’ve got a special treat for ya’ll today. Give a warm (get it?) welcome to my pal, Alyson. (Hi Alyson!) She talks her own kinda trash over at The Shitastrophy. I’ll warn you though – she tells it like it is so put your big girl panties on before clicking through (then make sure you have a second pair handy because you’re sure to need a spare once you get to reading the shit she writes.) Oh, I took the liberty of censoring the first F-bomb she tossed out. The rest is full-on Alyson so consider yourself warned! Continue reading

14 Jul

How to Dress Up Boring Flower Pots

stocking cap planter

When you live in a place that has cold weather 8 out of 12 months you spend a lot of time putting on and taking off layers of clothes. Your hall closets are overrun with jackets, boots, gloves and hats. Shades of grey monopolize the landscape so savvy clothing designers temper the chill with bright pops of color. Outerwear in pinks and greens and oranges tease Midwestern folk with notions of warmer weather to come. By mid-March, we are drunk on the idea of summertime and all but begging the weatherman to issue 95-degree daily temps without regard to the heat index. Read More

08 May

Smell the flowers: An exercise in patience

bridal bouquet

Yesterday, I decided to do something with the bushel of flowers laying on the dining room table. When I saw them at the hardware store, I broke my ‘no retail’ decorating rule and scooped them up. They were clearanced out at 75% so I justified tossing them into the cart. That was over a month ago. And while I have been down with the sick lately that’s not why I was slacking. I picked up the perfect vase at Goodwill (for $0.99!) a few weeks back and my plan was to put them up on the fireplace mantle. Remember that disaster? Well it made a killer comeback from the infamous chalk paint fail so what the heck was I waiting for?

Truth is, I was scared.

I had never attempted to put together a floral arrangement from start to finish. Sure, I’ve doctored up half-assed faux flower jobs, pruning and shaping them to my liking. I even got crafty and swapped out the rose heads in my wedding bouquet after my online order wasn’t quite as described. Read More

05 Apr

Upcycled Window Well Photo Frame

DIY Window Frame

On a prescription refill trip, I pulled into the hospital parking lot just as a slight drizzle transitioned to steady down pour. In the stall ahead of me sat a full-sized pickup with junk piled up in the truck bed. Peeking out from underneath a door slab I spied the corner of something wooden and white and destined for salvage. Being the law-abiding citizen I am, rather than pick through a stranger’s soggy castoffs I continued in to the pharmacy. On the way out the kid noted that the truck and it’s treasure trove were still there, idling with someone behind the wheel.

I tried not to scare the guy as I snuck up to the driver’s door and rapped on the window. “Are you taking this stuff to the dump?” I asked and with a slight raise of his brow was given the go ahead to grab the big white thingy sticking out of the back. I shook off the rain, threw it in the car, fist pumped the air and headed home to clean up my score. Read More

28 Mar

Recycled Easter Egg Dye

recycled egg dye Typically, we celebrate Easter with after-church reservations at our favorite local restaurant. They serve up a wonderfully elaborate buffet complete with all sorts of farm animals fit for sacrificial offerings. Plus, they have my favorite beer on tap.

Now, when the kid was younger we did the whole basket, fake grass and chocolate bunny thing. I have photos of him holding hands with a neighbor-girl scouting plastic treasures in the yard. Another year, we hunted hidden eggs throughout an old folk’s home. And I vaguely recall stopping along the side of the road to pose the boy on a fuzzy pink bunny’s lap outside a carpet store.  But coloring eggs? Nope, can’t say I remember doing much of that. Read More

28 Feb

$5.00 DIY Wall Art

$5_DIY_art

Sometimes I find the hardest rooms to decorate are the ones I never use. I’m not sure what it is – lack of personal connection? Lack of interest? Lack of time? Either way, rooms like my spare bedroom, guest bath and kitchen elude me from a design standpoint.

I paid to have the house painted before we moved in and I swear the contractors took the liberty of overriding my color selections because my office and the guest bath are this odd teal-blue-green color. I have consulted my fan deck and the color does not exist. So, it was sheer luck that the hubs’ bachelor pad shower curtain matched the bathroom walls but do you think I could find decorator accents in a similar shade?

That would be a no. Read More

24 Dec

Stupid Cute Christmas Creations

no sew trees

Tomorrow is Christmas.

Because I’ve run out of time and more so because I usually don’t decorate much for the holidays, I am a huge fan of stupid cute and crazy easy crafts. For some odd reason, this year I’m obsessed with trees. Partly for a blog post but mainly because we are hosting our church small group party later this week, I decided to get in the spirit and do some DIY decorating. I thought a mini-forest in the dining room corner cabinet would be a cute way to display my latest obsession.

GWTree

I picked up this cute little tree wrapped in burlap at GoodWill for $0.49. You might remember having seen it on my table at the Ladies Brunch I hosted a few weekends back & posted about here. I really didn’t do anything to it (how adorable is the jalapeno pepper!?!) but place it on an old candle stick holder. It looks so cute between those tealights doesn’t it?

All over Pinterest you can find tutorials for these Anthropologie-inspired paper trees (I used real wood for my trunks).

AnthroTrees

I tucked them under spaghetti sauce jars, laid a bit of faux-snow down and placed them onto a reclaimed barn-wood frame I made this summer. At some point during my crafting I came across an image that inspired me. It was a zigzag line with lights and a star similar to this one.

Zigzag Tack Trees

I don’t know about you but there are times that I experience a sort of futuristic x-ray vision and can look at something and immediately see it transformed into something else. That’s what usually gets me in trouble happened here.

Zigzagimg

I ran out to the garage and grabbed a piece of scrap wood, sanded it up and smoothed out the edges. Then I shot it with some clear sealer. I printed out the image, laid it over the wood and marked the ends of each zigzag with a large nail.

I had some carpet tacks on hand so I grabbed those and my hammer.

Tacktree ZZThread

After tapping in the tacks, I fished out some green yarn, tied a knot around the starting tack and zigged and zagged around the nail heads. I repeated this pattern on the way back down. Then up, then down about five times.

ZZTree

I must have come up with four different patterns before settling on my initial simplistic design. There are so many options – just play around until something makes you say AHA! – and that’s your keeper.

ZZTrees

I was so psyched about how easy it was that I got fancy and made a few more. Here is a sparkly green ribbon one that I {heart}. (spray paint after tapping in tacks)

ZZRibbon

Stupid cute right?

ZZDoor

(and did you notice I finished painting my front door???)

No Sew / No Glue Trees

I know you’ve seen those gorgeous fabric wrapped trees all over the ‘net right? My most favorite ones were done by Ashley over at Domestic Imperfection. Now, when I saw her (re)post I thought that it sounded über simple and right up my lazy craft alley to grab some ribbon, styrofoam cones and the glue gun.

A friend of mine mentioned seeing the styrofoam jobbers at the dollar store and I’m so glad she did because I was not about to pay $3.50 a pop at HobLob. And, the ones at the dollar store are white – not green.

I was super excited to get cracking on this project. I grabbed all my supplies and settled in before realizing the glue gun was in the basement. After a full day of crafting, I didn’t have it in me to run back downstairs.

So, I improvised.

Remember I had just finished up my tack trees? Well, I wrapped the fabric/ribbon around the cone and stuck a carpet tack right through it and into the styrofoam to secure. It worked like a charm and took all of 2 minutes per tree to complete.

BackTack

How’s that for crazy easy?

StyroTrees

 And do you wanna know a secret?

ThrowRug

The braided trim I used (far left tree) was salvaged from a rug my pup destroyed.

(Have you ever noticed how lots of area rugs are made from the same stuff a dog’s tug toy is made from??) 

I knew I’d find a use for those remains eventually!

Oh and did you see the pine cone tree in the back? That sucker was at GoodWill for $2.99. Did you hear me? Two-ninety-nine and it still had the Crate & Barrel sticker on it. (sometimes I wonder about the guys in back pricing things but I’m not complaining!!!)

WillTrees

I decided to pop the texture and painted every single petal? leaf? of the pine cones white. That’s 2 hours I’ll never get back – but isn’t it so pretty?? Well worth it I say.

I abso.freaking.lutely love how the white beaded tree turned out. The beads are laying right on the white foam! (The green form would not have worked!) And since I didn’t permanently secure the ribbon I can unwrap and reuse these lovelies on a future project.

TreeCU

Shim Trees

Do you have 5 minutes to spare? Great. Grab some shims, wood glue and painters tape. Glue up the tips of the shims (one side only), lay them on top of one another and wrap tape around to secure.

Then, grab a soda and watch your latest DVR’d episode of Grey’s. When you’re all caught up on Meredith & Christina’s drama you’ll have super cute shim trees to display! (I may or may not have vegged out during this project).

ShimTrees

These are sitting on top of furniture ‘feet’ on top of my mantle. I was going to paint them and dress them up more but I kind of like them as is.

Whimsical Reindeer Hangers

When I was at the Will one of the last 7 or so times this month I eyed some white ceiling fan brackets and thought “Hmmm” (that always means trouble). I wasn’t quite sure if my idea would fly so I turned to the random person next to me and asked her opinion.

Initially, she wasn’t feeling my vision but when I put the brackets up to my temples she joined in on my AHA! moment.

Reindeer

See? Stupid cute right? (bet you wished I had a picture of those on my head!)

The faces are made out of scrap wood and the ears are actually (upside down) bees and (flipped over) leaves that I pulled off of a springtime floral wreath I picked up (at GoodWill of course) for a client project I just finished. They were just sitting on my work table begging to be repurposed.

A little bit of paint and wood glue and VOILA! I’ve got festive reindeer heads on my wall. (No shotgun needed.) You could easily hang stockings or candy canes on the ‘antlers’. I opted for mini ornaments.

I will tell you though, be sure to prime the brackets first. I didn’t initially and the paint peeled right off. The high-gloss finish they put on is some heavy-duty stuff!

Forest

And here you have it all pulled together.

Super crazy easy projects that you can do today (with the kids!) and have all your friends raving about what a creative critter you are tomorrow.

You could even whip up some last-minute gifts if need be.

Or hit the clearance racks and get a head start on next year’s decorations.

I’m going to find a way to make tack ‘prints’ of everything!

 

FullRoom

FamRules

And speaking of gifts – here is one from me to you.

Like a well run job site, every home should have its rules posted for all to see.

This should print out at full size on a regular piece of paper and easily fit an 8 x 10 frame (trimmed down a bit of course).

If you have any trouble downloading/printing let me know.

By the way, you might have noticed these gorgeous elephants earlier.

Elephants

A few years ago, today, my great friend Megan and her kids threw me my first and only birthday party. These were my gift then. Now, they sit proudly on our hearth and I just love them. Some things you just don’t try to redo. They are perfect as is.

I hope every one of you has a very, merry Christmas!

 

13 Dec

DIY Air Freshener

DIY Air Freshener

This morning I had to get up extra early to clear off the dining room table and move all of the furniture because the flooring guys had to come back (again!) to repair our laminate wood floors. Since my pup has crazy dust mite allergies we had the carpeting (except in the bedrooms) replaced. While the floors were installed a good 5 months ago, something about the squooshiness of the underlayment and our needing to walk from room to room doesn’t jive and the joints between the boards keep failing. This is the second time they’ve been out to rip up and relay the flooring and the main guy swears he’s never seen this happen before. I suppose that makes me special. Let’s just hope what *they* say about the 3rd time is true.

As I was prepping for the contractors I remembered an idea I had a few nights ago during a frequent bout of insomnia. I was laying in bed looking at my very empty scented plug-in nightlight and wondered if I could refill it myself. (The prices of replacement bulbs are steep!) So during my pre-contractor clean-a-thon, I grabbed two empty Bath & Body Works Wallflowers to test my theory. By the way, if you use the nightlight kind be prepared to wipe away some dead bugs from inside the pretty flower part. I wouldn’t recommend washing them since this is the part that connects to the plug and water and electricity don’t mix.

I unscrewed the glass bulbs from the plastic plugger-inner thingy and with a butter knife popped the plastic cap (that holds the filter) off and rinsed the bulb out.

Slide2

Originally, my thought was to refill them with Febreeze but I didn’t have any on hand so I surveyed my bathroom closet with the assumption that B&BW didn’t reinvent the wheel between body and home spray making.

Since I have an overabundance of Vanilla Bean Noel body spray (hey, it’s my favorite and when your birthday is the day before Christmas you take advantage of those ‘Buy 3 Get 3 Free’ specials – don’t judge me) it was an easy choice to make.

Slide3

I poured the spray into the glass bulb. Here’s a tip – don’t fill it all the way up or it will overflow when you insert the filter. (Unless the goal is to have your countertops smell perty like mine do now.) Twist the bulb back into the plug-in component and…

TADA! For absolutely no money and very little time you can get your place to stink pretty again!

DIY wall flowers @deeconstruct

About 10 minutes later, both flooring guys commented on something smelling nice. Since I hadn’t showered yet I knew they weren’t talking about me. Success!

Slide5

And the best part is that free looks as good as it smells!

As they finish up the floors, I’m holed up in my bedroom in a make-shift office (nevermind that I have an actual office…it is in complete disarray) putting the finishing touches on my craft fair goodies.

TempOffice

I feel like a teenager again. All curled up on my bed writing….I just have to keep myself from laying back and napping. Thanks for popping in – now, go refill all of your plug-ins!

10 Dec

‘Tis the {Craft Fair} Season

DIY painted dishes

Is it seriously Monday again already??

These last days of the year are whipping by and I wish I could say I’m lounging around lazily enjoying lattes and foot massages but I most certainly am not. Instead, I am going freakin’ crazy {my fave state of mind btw} preparing for a craft show this weekend.

Back when I schlep’d Tupperware I participated in a few of these but the preparation was so simple: 1. Set up a table. 2. Pull out the plastic. 3. Drink coffee. Now? Yeah, not quite that easy. I sorta forgot that *making* my own products would need to be factored into the planning timetable. Whoops!

Anyhow, I’m running at full steam whipping out uber awesome things. I’m not quite ready to post them but I will give you a few sneak peeks and update later this week with the full reveal. (how’s that for tossing out a meatbone of anticipation ~ I’m learning, I’m learning!)

What I will share are the ho-hum GoodWill plates that got doctored up for last Saturday’s Women’s Brunch at church.

Now, I’m going to be as honest as possible with this tutorial because, while I’ve seen similar posts all over Pinterest, not one of them tells you that it is a PITA project. Seriously. It isn’t as easy peasy as *they’d* have you believe and I’m here to shatter that facade.

To start, I picked up an array of somewhat similar plates ~ the most expensive being $0.99 ~ and some paint pens from HobLob (don’t forget your coupon!)

I did some research on the toxicity of the pens and determined that since no one was going to be guzzling a pint of the paint, they were no less safe than any preservatives added to the food that would sit on top of them and went with it.

(Elmers has a non-toxic version & HobLob carries it. So if you’re really concerned I would recommend that as an alternative.)

After trying quite unsuccessfully to use a stencil & spray adhesive (bleed city) I freehanded the design and let it sit (all over the kitchen table and counters) for 24 hours to dry.

Then I popped the plates into a cool oven set at 350 degrees for 30 mins (or so, I’m horrible at remembering what time I start anything). The baking process made the house stink, I’m not gonna lie.

When the time was up, I cracked the oven door (and the windows) to let the plates cool in place. Then I pulled them out to oggle the fruits of my labor (get it?)

Now, remember I had a good 30’ish minutes to kill so I continued to survey other blogs for project tips.

I came across this awesome post about using a liquid cleanser (intended for the kitchen & bath) to remove scuffs from ceramic and just happened to have some under the counter.

So I eyed the *COMPLETELY FINISHED* plates sitting on the countertop. I walked over and gave them a once over noticing the scuffs & scratches.

….and then proceeded to soak & scrub each and every one of them.

I am happy to report, though, that most of the plates survived the initial scrubdown and the knife marks were gone. Win, win!

But me being insane me, I repainted every. single. one., let them dry & recooked ‘em.

I’m not kidding when I say I do everything twice.

During the (initial) cooking process the design stayed in tact but the color lost some oomph. See how the red turned orange and some of the branches disappeared? No good.

The entire process gave new meaning to ‘lather, rinse & repeat’.

Flash forward to Friday night.

As I was setting up my table, many of the other ladies were already scoping out the competition. (I kid, this is all done in love.) One of them asked where I purchased the plates and it wasn’t until someone else said they’d “never seen a complete set of dishes” at The Will that I caught the compliment. They didn’t believe I had created a one of a kind dinnerware set (for under $20!).

The look on their faces when I (humbly, I hope) set the record straight was heartwarming. This post is dedicated to them for making me feel accomplished. (Thank you, thank you!)

While I am *SO FAR* from being legit in this DIY small business, it elated my soul to know that I am at least headed down the right path. Finally. But I can’t take credit…

Anyhow, the church event was magnificent and filled me with the Christmas spirit.

Oh just so we’re clear, there were no cases of (human) lead poisoning and everyone (of  the ceramic kind) made it through the final rinse cycle unscathed! I wish I could say the same for my dining room table. Did you know that it’s not a suitable ironing board substitute? Sigh – guess refinishing the top will go on the 2013 Bucket List.

The rest of the table decor is now hanging out on my mantle.

Next week, I’m hoping to tackle a few of the crazy cool projects I’ve seen posted on millions of blogs recently (like this one) and get the tree up. I’ll be hosting our care group’s Christmas party soon so my house will actually be cleaned! (yes, I promise to take an obscene amount of photos for proof)

For now, I’m busily creating the craft fair items. Hopefully, someone will think they are good enough to wrap up and put under the tree for someone special.

If not, guess what you’re getting from me?? (insert evil laugh here)

I hope you are having an equally productive day. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the plates, my messy kitchen table or life in general.

Linking up to MetMonday and these other fine folks. (be sure to check them out too!)